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Evacuation order lifted for Warden residents; firefighters continue to battle Washington Potato blaze

Jan. 22, 2021 Updated Fri., Jan. 22, 2021 at 1:15 p.m.

The Grant County Sheriff’s Office has lifted an evacuation order for Warden residents near a fire at the Washington Potato Facility.

The threat of an explosion has abated and residents within the danger zone have been allowed back into their homes, the sheriff’s office posted to its Facebook page early Friday morning.

The evacuation order applied to residents west of Road U Southeast and south of State Route 170 in Warden.

The source of officials’ alarm was an ammonia tank – now believed to have vented – at the Washington Potato grounds, where a fire sparked inside the processing plant’s dehydrator at about 5:30 p.m. on Thursday.

No injuries have been reported in the fire, which spread to the facility’s main building and was expected to burn through the night as crews use ladder trucks to douse the flames, according to the sheriff’s office.

As of early Friday morning, nearby roads remained closed to traffic.

In an update later Friday, the sheriff’s office said the fire is now under control and no new evacuations are expected. 

“Firefighters will be at the scene until they feel that it is safe to leave. The investigation will continue throughout the day,” the office wrote.

Crews from multiple fire agencies throughout the region responded to assist in the response.

Washington Potato Company has been affiliated with the Oregon Potato Company since 2001, according to the latter’s website, “significantly increasing our capacity and ability to supply customers of all sizes with premium quality dehydrated and dehydrofrozen potato products both domestically and throughout the world.”

A person who answered the phone at the Oregon Potato Company declined to comment and said the company’s media representatives would issue a statement.

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